how to introduce new foods
Studies consistently show that food preferences in children are largely determined by how much exposure they have to food.
You may be tempted to serve only food that you know your child likes. But this is doing a disservice to their long-term eating habits. The wider variety of food that children are exposed to, the wider their food preferences.
You might hate introducing new foods, because of the battle it becomes. There are ways to make this easier!
Use the buddy system
When introducing new foods to your child, it’s very helpful to pair a familiar food with the new food. This is like having a friend or sibling with you on the first day at a new school. It’s less frightening to walk up those steps and go through the door when you have someone familiar nearby.
I recently gave this bit of advice to a friend. She reported back to me that she tried pairing red pepper strips (a food her daughter has not enjoyed in the past) with hummus (a food her daughter loves to eat). Her daughter ended up gobbling it all up!
How often should you introduce new foods?
There aren’t a set number of times per week, per se, that you should offer new foods. Frequently offering a variety of foods is important but you also still want to respect your child’s current food preferences. There should be a balance of familiar, liked foods as well as new dishes. It would be cruel to make a food your child has not learned to like as the basis of every meal. If you have currently been catering to your child’s food preferences, it is probably best to start slowly with introducing new foods.
Also, remember your child’s eating personality. If you have an Uber-Cautious eater, you may want to hold back and introduce new foods slowly. If you have an Adventurous eater, you could introduce new foods more often.
Here’s an idea: serve a new food alongside a complete, balanced meal that you know your child already enjoys. Let’s say you make lasagna one night and you have leftovers. Your child loves lasagna and would eat it all day long.
The next day, you could prepare a new dish alongside the lasagna leftovers. That way the option is there to try something new.